Cooking (& Living) from the Hip
In the 17+ years since I last lived on my own, a few things about me have changed.
Okay, more than a few.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on one thing – my cooking. Back in my early- and mid-twenties, I had barely graduated from dorm cuisine in my first couple of solo post-college apartments when I moved in with two bandmates (and benefited from a bit of communal cooking now and then). Soon after that I moved in with the man I would live with for the next 16 years – a man who loves to cook. I spent all those years thinking I didn’t like to cook, and that I was genuinely bad at it. I loved to eat, however, and thoroughly enjoyed cooking shows, talking with chefs, and learning about different dishes and ingredients both on my travels and in restaurants at home.
So now that I find myself living on my own again, it turns out that I actually do enjoy cooking – and that I’m not so terrible at it.
I have a lot to learn about cooking – it feels a bit like alchemy sometimes, when certain ingredients magically transform a runny sauce into something viscous, for instance – but my taste buds spent the last 17 years refining themselves into a decent cooking tool. I’m usually not sure how to proceed on the implementation front, but I almost can’t help myself coming up with ideas for ingredients or recipe tweaks.
Who knows, by the time I’m 50 I might just get the hang of this.
Toward that end, I booked two spots at a Hipcooks class for my friend Toni’s birthday, and we spent three hours learning to make a bunch of tapas dishes (and then devouring them) with a dozen or so other people. It was great fun, the food was delicious, and the “from the hip” style of cooking was really accessible. They made cooking seem easy, which was perfect for me. As you can see from the photos in this post, the Hipcooks folks know what they’re doing – I’m looking forward to taking a few more classes from them in the coming year.
Maybe my favorite lesson of the evening was in making aioli. It calls for only the yolks, and the less of the white you can get into the bowl before you start whisking, the better. So, that means not just shifting the yolk from one hand to another, it means rolling the yolk down your arm. You read that right – you actually roll the fragile yolk down your forearm to remove the last traces of egg white. It’s a helluva cooking party trick.
My firstborn Type-A personality may never let me cook completely “from the hip,” but it’s hard to overlook how valuable that attitude could be for the rest of my life, too.